lighted more than aesthetics and resale value?
I would say yes.” He maintains that many
common misconceptions about sprinklers—
that they’re expensive and unsightly, and will
do a lot of damage if they fail—are not true
anymore: “The companies have worked very,
very hard on that.”
And if there is a fire …
Alarms are the first line of defence—but
they’re not much good without a strategy in
place if they do go off. Fire ladders and extinguishers can be effective tools, although
Boissonneault cautions they could give you a
false sense of security if you don’t know how
to use them properly. What’s needed most is a
fire escape plan:
•Identify two ways out of each room.
•Ensure children know how to exit by
themselves, if necessary.
•Provide for those who require extra
help (e.g., the elderly and disabled).
•Agree on an outdoor meeting place.
•Phone the fire department from outside.
•Don’t go back in.
The Canada Safety Council has suggestions for drawing up a plan (canadasafety
council.org/home-safety/every-home-needs-fire-escape-plan), and Boissonneault also
encourages asking your local fire service for
help: “First responders are there to assist in
time of need, but we’re also there to educate
and prevent fires from taking place.”
So now you’re all set, right?
While fires are often visible, there’s a hid-
den killer that may lurk in homes: carbon
monoxide (CO). Costco member John Gignac
was a firefighter for 34 years, but for the last
seven he’s devoted himself to advocating for
CO monitors in every residence. In December
2008, his niece Laurie Hawkins, her husband
and their two children perished from CO
exposure. They did not have CO alarms.
Gignac established the Hawkins-Gignac
endthesilence.ca) so no other
family would have to suffer a similar loss.
One of the foundation’s aims is to inform
the public about just how lethal and insidious
this colourless, odourless and tasteless gas is.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
mimic the flu—tiredness, lethargy and nausea—but without a fever. Often, though, carbon monoxide takes its toll while victims
sleep. Appliances such as fireplaces, furnaces
and hot-water heaters should be checked
annually by qualified technicians, but an
alarm is the only way you’ll know if CO is
present in your home.
Detectors are required in many regions,
with Ontario being the latest to mandate one
in every residence, near each sleeping area. If
you experience any of the physical warning
signs or if the alarm goes off, leave immediately and call emergency services.
“Help me honour my family’s memory
and make sure your family is protected,” says
Gignac. “Laurie would want it that way.” C
Penny Musco is a freelance writer who writes
on a variety of topics.
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.ca carry a variety of
smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Costco.ca also carries escape ladders.
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